Aurora Mayor and former congressman Mike Coffman spent his time in an unusual way last week: undercover as a homeless man.

On December 26, Coffman took to the streets of Denver and Aurora with no food or money, telling only Shaun Boyd, CBS4's Political Specialist, about his endeavor.

The goal of the experiment was to determine the reasoning behind the growing homeless population in the area. After a week of posing as a homeless veteran, wearing only a jacket and a backpack, Coffman believes he has found the answer: drugs.

"These encampments are not a product of the economy or COVID. They're not a product of rental rates or housing. They are a part of a drug culture," he told Boyd. "It's a lifestyle choice and it is a very dangerous lifestyle choice."

Coffman said he saw people frequently using hard drugs, including meth and heroin, while regularly receiving food thanks to the generosity of the public.

He thinks that shelters also foster a sense of dependency, adding that while some of the residents suffer from mental disabilities, most could work, but choose not to.

Coffman noted that the experiment has changed the way he wants to address homelessness, telling Boyd: "It's not going to be doing more of the same. It's not going to be spending more money to do the same stuff."

At 10 p.m. on Wednesday (Jan. 6), the mayor will discuss possible solutions to the issue in a follow-up segment with Boyd.

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